|Monday, May 21
Supreme Court's pass is Ravens' loss on logo appeal
By Darren Rovell
The Baltimore Ravens might have defeated the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, but they still haven't beaten their toughest opponent.
He's Frederick Bouchat, a 35-year-old security guard from Maryland, who has been arguing for years the Ravens' original logo -- which included a "B" and the word "Ravens" on a shield with wings on each side -- was similar to a drawing he submitted to John Moag, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, five years ago.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a U.S. District Court decision won by Bouchat, who sued the Ravens for copyright infringement. The Supreme Court refused to review the November 1998 case.
Bouchat recalls the day in early June of 1996 when he watched the unveiling of the Ravens logo: "It was on television because they unveiled it on the side of a building at the Orioles game," Bouchat said. "It was so huge and I was so excited."
The next day at the official press conference, Bouchat waited for them to mention his name as the logo's designer, but they never did. Bouchat said all he was hoping to receive was an autographed team helmet and a letter of recognition for his artwork.
Bouchat said he tried to contact the Maryland Stadium Authority, but officials didn't return phone calls.
Although the Ravens changed their logo to the bird with a "B" before the 1999 season, some Ravens memorabilia and even Super Bowl products still featured Bouchat's logo.
"(A) video was advertised in Sports Illustrated and a local television station here was giving out posters with Fred's logo on it -- or what they called the classic logo," said Howard Schulman, Bouchat's lawyer.
At the original trial, 20 co-workers and acquaintances testified seeing Bouchat's Ravens logos in December 1995 -- six months before the official team logo was unveiled. The Ravens contended the design was created independently by league artists at NFL Properties.
Attempts by ESPN.com to reach Ravens officials late Monday were unsuccessful.
"The Ravens had no knowledge of Mr. Bouchat or his artwork prior to our approval of the NFL properties design," Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne told Bloomberg News.
Although the original case asked for $10 million in damages, Schulman said the final amount awarded depends on "how much profit the Ravens and NFL properties made on the logo." While Schulman would not speculate on how much that was, he did say the increased use of the logo after the Super Bowl could potentially increase the damages.
Because licensing revenues are equally split among the teams, Bouchat could receive the Ravens' share of league revenues from 1996 through 1998, when the team exclusively used his logo.
Over the three-year period, the Ravens took in $151.7 million in common revenues, according to data -- obtained by the Los Angeles Times -- used in the recent Raiders lawsuit against the NFL. Common revenues are predominantly made up of national television and radio deals, but also include the team's share of licensing revenues.
"I'm not angry at (Ravens owners) Art and David Modell," Bouchat said. "I'm disappointed about the way they went about dealing with this case."
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at email@example.com